Meditation has been practised for centuries and has often been associated with ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations, where it held great importance and was even considered a source of wellbeing. It has been known to bring about many desirable benefits including mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Meditation is taught and facilitated worldwide by experts and is often incorporated with various spiritual teachings and exercises, including yoga. This article explores the major benefits of meditation that are based on scientific studies:
Even from the ancient civilizations where meditation seems to have stemmed from, the ultimate goal was to give a calm mind by reducing stress. Meditation is always done in a quiet environment away from stress triggers.
When you are under stress, the hormone cortisol is produced, which in turn triggers other effects such as severe anxiety, lacking clarity and panic attacks. Meditation includes relaxation techniques which combat the production of cortisol.
This was observed in a study which took place over eight weeks. The test subjects who were under stress were introduced to meditation. At the end of this study, they showed a significant reduction in their symptoms of anxiety.
It is estimated that a little over 2.3 million people in Australia suffer from anxiety. Worldwide, the number would probably rise to tens if not hundreds of millions. Anxiety is a crippling problem that people are trying to get over with all manner of medication and therapy.
A simple way to get through it would be with meditation. It has been proven to reduce levels of stress which translates to less anxiety. A study conducted among 1300 adults suffering from anxiety demonstrated this. Even more remarkably, the anxiety reduction was most pronounced among those who had the highest levels of stress.
Healthy Emotional Balance
Meditation allows you to calm down and process things more reasonably. A calm mind can see things more transparently and make more sound and stable decisions. This helps one to gain a hold over their emotions, especially when they are experiencing poor emotional health from stress and depression.
In a study, more than 3500 adults suffering from depression and emotional imbalance were introduced to meditation. After a couple of weeks practising Mindfulness Meditation, they displayed an incredible reduction in depression and more emotional stability.
Boosted Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem
Most of us have had to go through some periods of poor self-realization, which ultimately led to low confidence and even lower self-esteem. While we are always told to have confidence in ourselves, very little guidance is given on how exactly to achieve that.
Well, meditation is how.
Meditation is done in a variety of techniques, but almost all will help you calm your turbulent mind well enough to get back in touch with yourself. It enables you to understand yourself at a deeper level so you can learn how to understand those around you.
This was observed from a study with 153 adults. Over two weeks, they used Mindfulness Meditation to improve self-awareness. At the end of the study, they expressed feeling less lonely and having better social interactions.
If you are struggling with a short attention span where you can barely focus on anything for a few seconds or minutes, you should try meditation. Focused attention meditation is particularly suited for such individuals, and it aims at increasing their concentration span, which in turn helps them to be productive, attain their goals and even boost professional relationships.
A study used a control group to test whether meditation helps to boost focus. The group that listened to meditation or practised it recorded better attention and were more accurate in their tasks compared to the control group.
Reduced Memory Loss (Age-Related)
Naturally, we tend to forget things faster as we age. This is because our brain cells and the proteins that repair them degenerate more quickly as we get older.
The Kirtan Kriya method of meditation, however, helps you to focus on your thoughts using a mantra and specific finger motions. It has been proven to improve memory in a study with several test subjects experiencing age-related memory loss. It also boosted their attention span and helped them think more clearly.
Helping to Reduce Addictions
Meditation is founded on not just calmness but also a mental discipline. It is a quality you acquire over time -the more you practice meditation, the stronger your resolve becomes. Mental discipline is essential in overcoming a myriad of life problems, including emotional lash-outs, dependencies and addictions.
In one study, sixty people who had an alcohol addiction and were receiving treatment were introduced to transcendental meditation. After three months, they recorded a significant reduction in their alcohol cravings, stress and alcohol use.
Another study has also established that meditation helps to build the mental discipline to help you control food cravings.
Improving the Quality and Length of Sleep
Unless you are living a reasonably unproblematic life, you can admit to struggling with insomnia at some point. Some people have insomnia that sticks around for a while even with medication and therapy, and it eventually affects their mental, physical and emotional health.
Studies have proved that constant meditation can help reduce the severity of insomnia as well as its associated effects. The subjects recorded longer sleep durations and a general improvement in sleep quality was also observed.
As many therapists and psychiatrists would say, pain, mostly mental, is a perception of your mind. Emotional, physical and psychological pain can be caused and accelerated by different events, but can also be controlled by the mind. Meditation teaches one to be in control of their mind so they can see and feel only what they allow themselves to.
A study was conducted among 3500 subjects who were experiencing pain. After practising meditation for a while, they described feeling less pain.
In conclusion, the benefits of meditation reach far beyond what can be listed down in this article. Also, it is essential to note that one does not need to be suffering or to be going through anything to practice meditation – it is a generally healthy and enlightening habit that everyone should adopt.